In reality, the world of Game of Thrones, Westeros, though beautiful, would not be the healthiest travel destination. Thanks to to all the warring houses, undead zombies and roaming dragons. What if we told you that there was a way to experience Westeros without George R R Martin killing you off. While you anxiously bit your nails through the recently premiered Season 6 we put together a dream vacation. A chance to experience a world full of castles and tree-lined roads leading to estates in the countryside. The icy landscape of the Great Wall in the North and the contrasting sunny medieval city of Mereen. You can get the general idea from the brilliant clockwork opening of the show.
If you love Game of Thrones, the real Westeros is waiting out there for you to explore. Now starts your quest.
Northern Ireland – Winterfell
Castle Ward and Tollymore Forest in Northern Ireland is where the Stark family calls home. Winterfell, where the majestic direwolves were found and where we began our adventure in Westeros. You can also learn archery here, so that’s pretty awesome!
Northern Ireland – Iron Islands
While you are in northern Ireland, you can also visit the site of the Iron Islands, Ballintoy Harbour. The bastion of house Greyjoy was envisioned here and though it doesn’t look as stark (see what I did there? ) as it appears on the show, it’s a beautiful place to see.
Northern Ireland – Dragonstone
Downhill Beach in Northern Ireland is where you can also visit Dragonstone! Where yet another Baratheon staked his claim to the Iron Throne, this is the land of Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon, and the magic of the lord of Light.
Northern Ireland – The Kingsroad
The most enchanting and perhaps most eventful road in the seven kingdoms is the Kingsroad. In Northern Ireland, it is called The Dark Hedges in Ballymoney, a tunnel like road flanked by entwined beech trees that form a twisted canopy over the path. Great for some photos too!
Iceland – Castle Black / Beyond the wall
Hold the Door!!! Hodor!! As I watched that heart wrenching scene from the most shocking episode so far.. I realized that we’re not ready to be defeated by the Night’s king and his army yet…the land of Wight Walkers and Wildlings begs to be discovered. Acres and acres of pure white glaciers and snowscapes.. Contrasting dark forests.. where decapitated zombies are hiding just around the corner..
Just kidding, Iceland is a fabulous and gorgeous country with zero wight walkers as far as we know. You can go on an epic hike across Svínafellsjökull Glacier which is part of the larger Vatnajökull Glacier in Iceland. It’s probably the most famous location in the show where the mysterious and gallant Jon Snow spends most of his time not knowing anything with his wildling girlfriend Ygritte. The best time of the year to travel here is from May to September, and you need to be over 14 years of age. check out https://guidetoiceland.is/book-holiday-trips/glacier-adventure for tour details and planning.
Croatia – Kings Landing
King’s Landing, also known as the quaint coastal town of Dubrovnik in Croatia is the capital of the Seven Kingdoms in the TV series. Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic is Croatia’s best kept secret. One of the most beautiful cities in Croatia, strolling through their cobbled streets is just like taking a tour through the narrow streets of Kings Landing. www.Viator.com has a curated 3 day Game of Thrones tour of Dubrovnik and Split which is worth checking out.
Exploring the other cities along the Dalmatian coast is a mix of travelling back in time and enjoying luxury and nature like a king. Discover the heart of the Roman Empire in the centuries old architecture and culture in Split. Go yachting in Skradin, Sibenik in the Kornati archipelago. And if you really have a thing for the strange, go see the ‘Museum of Broken Relationships’ in Zagreb. Yes, there is such a thing!
Greece – The Eyrie
Who doesn’t love Greece? And just as luck might have it, the Eyrie in the Vale of Arryn is right there.
Photo courtesy: theplanetd.com
I remember wondering where they had found such a green and lush location to shoot The Eyrie, ruled by House Arryn. Meteora in Greece literally meaning “suspended in the air” with its high cliffs it is the perfect location for the castle with the Sky Windows and views of the Vale. You could easily spend a few days here and take in the sights. They did add some CGI to the TV series so a little imagination is required here. Still, Greece is always fun, so get inspired by Tyrion and go pub crawling! Hike to the Aghio Pnevma rock and see the tiny monastery and caves perched at the top. It’s said to be one of the oldest in the region built in the 10th century. Take the ferry and go to Santorini or Mykonos for the party scene. I swear by the Seven Gods, you will definitely need that drink after watching season 6.
Morocco – Mereen, Astapor, Yunkai
All hail Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the first of her name, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi etc etc etc…
Come and see the glory of Slaver’s Bay (Mereen) (Minus the slavers luckily) in Essaouira in Morocco. You may remember that this is the place where Daenerys unleashed her magnificent dragons to liberate Mereen from the slavers! What an epic scene that was! From season 3, they started filming scenes from Astapor and Yukai in Morocco as well. Did you know, Essaouira is a UNESCO world heritage site that rivals Marrakech? Famous for its beaches and perfect conditions for kiteboarding and windsurfing, this Morrocan city has secrets of it own and people are slowly unravelling the mysteries and heritage of this ancient city once called Mogador.
Go on the 4 day guided tour of Essaouira and Astapor by www.viator.com and try horse riding on the beach, and kitesurfing too.
Photo courtesy: www.viator.com
Photo courtesy: HBO